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Journalism

By Me Recently: E-Commerce Logistics in India, Outsourcing, Cyber-Security and More

2015 10 25 ecomm

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal and online here is a story I’m especially proud of.

My colleagues and I followed — literally — a sari across India, illustrating the logistical challenge e-commerce startups in the country face.

The story begins:

MADURAI, India—The future of India’s booming e-commerce market is in the hands of small-time customers like 27-year-old Gayathri Rajamansingh.
Each Sunday, the owner of a small hair salon browses the Shopclues website from her home, hunting for bargains. Recently, she fixed on a floral-print sari, a traditional Indian one-piece garment, and clicked “Buy Now.”

Ms. Rajamansingh’s impulse purchase of the 199 rupee ($3.06) sari, set in motion a logistical operation that is complex and costly. Delivering the item involved a three-day, roughly 1,200-mile journey from Surat, in the western state of Gujarat, to her home in Madurai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. More than 30 people moved the package, through two overnight truck journeys, a long-haul flight and, finally, a motorbike to her doorstep.

There’s also an interactive feature with some fun videos and maps.

Meanwhile, here are some of my other recent stories:

  • Indian Startup Seclore Gains Traction Amid High Profile Hacks
  • Investors to Scrutinize India’s Information Technology Company Earnings
  • Ad-Focused Malware Targets Apple Users in China and Taiwan
  • Don’t forget that you can get my latest stories — and other links that catch my eye — delivered to your inbox. Sign up for my weekly email newsletter here.

    Categories
    Tech

    By Me Yesterday: Google Access Disrupted in Malaysia

    The story begins:

    Access to Google Inc.’s Malaysia website was disrupted Tuesday, the company said, with some users redirected to a website saying “Google Malaysia Hacked.”

    “We’re aware that some users are having trouble connecting to google.com.my, or are being directed to a different website,” a Google spokesman said. “We’ve reached out to the organization responsible for managing this domain name and hope to have the issue resolved shortly.” Google services like Gmail haven’t been compromised, he added.

    A tweet from Google Malaysia’s official Twitter account said the disruption was due to a domain name system, or DNS, redirection. DNS servers act as virtual address books and help direct Internet traffic.

    Some users who tried to visit Google’s Malaysia site were sent to a website with a black background and white, red and yellow text saying “Google Malaysia Hacked by Tiger-Mate. #Bangladeshi Hacker.”

    Categories
    Tech

    By Me Yesterday: FireEye Report Says China Likely Beghind Decadelong Cyberespionage Campaign

    The story begins:

    SINGAPORE—State-sponsored hackers in China are likely behind a sophisticated, decadelong cyberespionage campaign targeting governments, companies and journalists in Southeast Asia, India and other countries, a U.S. cybersecurity company said in a report released Monday.

    FireEye Inc. says the attacks have been designed to glean intelligence, likely from classified government networks and other sources, pertaining to political and military issues such as disputes over the South China Sea.

    Beijing’s claims in the contested South China Sea overlap with those of Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines—a U.S. treaty ally. Recently released satellite images show a dramatic expansion in China’s construction of artificial islands on disputed reefs, intensifying concerns about Beijing’s territorial ambitions.

    The Milpitas, Calif.-based FireEye said the hacking efforts are remarkable because of their duration—noting some elements have been in place since 2005—and stand out because of their geographic focus.

    Some of the cyberattacks have taken the form of specially crafted emails, written in recipients’ native languages, with documents that appear legitimate but contain malware, the report said.

    Other attacks are intended to penetrate isolated networks, cut off from the Internet for security purposes, by tricking their administrators into downloading malware on their home computers. The malware is then implanted on the administrators’ portable drives, such as USB sticks, that are later plugged into the secure networks, infecting them, it said.

    Categories
    Journalism Tech

    By Me Yesterday: Cyberdefense Spending is On the Rise in Asia

    The story begins:

    Spending to defend against cyberattacks is picking up speed in Asia, and the growth rate could outpace the global average this year.

    The latest development underscoring the trend: the US$810 million acquisition of U.S.-based cybersecurity provider Trustwave Holdings Inc. by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom company by revenue.

    The deal, announced Wednesday, follows recent high-profile breaches of companies such as Home Depot Inc., health insurer Anthem Inc. and Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Hackers also targeted Malaysia Airlines’ website in January. In March, South Korean investigators said state-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. and its business partners were targeted in cyberattacks aimed at stealing internal data that included plant blueprints and employees’ personal information. Korea Hydro operates South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors.

    Executives and analysts in Asia say they are increasingly contemplating their digital defenses in light of more-frequent attacks.

    Categories
    Journalism Tech

    By Me Earlier This Week: Interview with FireEye CEO David DeWalt

    The story begins:

    Network security company FireEye Inc. is seeing strong demand for its services amid a series of high-profile cyberattacks, and would like to grow more quickly, but is inhibited by a need to satisfy investors, the company’s chief executive said.

    “Once you’re public, Wall Street wants to see earnings,” David DeWalt told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Tuesday. The Milpitas, Calif.-based company, which has worked with Sony Pictures and health insurer Anthem Inc. following recent breaches, was founded as NetForts Inc. and went public in 2013.

    The company has yet to post a profit, and earlier this month reported a fourth-quarter loss of $105.7 million, despite higher revenue and billings, compared with $2.5 million a year earlier. The company said it has increased spending to expand its customer base. Revenues during the period jumped to $143 million from $57.3 million a year earlier.

    “If I had my way, I probably would continue to grow the company much faster than I would produce earnings,” he said. But the company must stay “balanced for cash flow and earnings, reporting and returning to shareholders bottom-line capabilities, as well as top.”

    “I liken the analogy to a Maserati that’s got the gas pedal to the floor but it’s in neutral. We’re looking for the gear,” Mr. DeWalt said.

    I also wrote a piece re-capping what DeWalt had to say about recent trends in cyber-security:

    Nations are fighting for superiority

    DeWalt said that “this great domain called cyberspace has created an enormous potential conflict.”

    “If you study mankind, it’s had conflict over every new domain that’s been discovered, whether it’s land or ocean or air or space. Whenever there’s a new land discovered we’ve fought wars over it. We’re in a major conflict. It’s been brewing. The gloves have been off a bit the last year or two. We’ve been on the front lines watching it, and it’s probably one of the most interesting times of my career.”

    Governments’ goals vary

    Each nation has its own reasons for “offensive” cyber activity, DeWalt said.

    “It’s well documented that China’s focus has largely been on the enrichment of its own state-owned enterprises. Do we ever watch crime occur for dollars? I’ve never seen a single case of a nation-state attack in China for money. They’re mostly after innovation information. Their modus operandi is to level the playing field through cyber offense.

    The U.S. has been very active in monitoring, maybe not for enrichment of commercial operations that are government-owned but for its own geopolitical interests.

    Russia has been super money oriented. Do we ever see them sabotage something? Never.

    North Korea? Gloves off immediately, try to destroy South Korea as quick as they can. It’s not about money or espionage, just about, kill your neighbor.”

    Expect more Sony-like “wipe and release” hacks

    The breach of Sony last year marked the “elevation” of cybercrime into “sabotage,” DeWalt said.

    “We’ve watched over the last two or three years significant occurrences of just outright destruction. Attempts to really hurt companies or countries with Internet weaponry. You don’t have to wipe out the company. All you have to do is release the information about the company. I think you’ll see a lot more of these wipe and release models, or maybe even just the release model, forget the wipe.”

    The Anthem hack shows increasing sophistication

    The take-home from the recently announced attack on U.S. health insurer Anthem: cybercriminals are getting seriously sophisticated.

    “The layers of cybercrime are reaching new levels. What once was high volume, low dollar amount credit card stealing evolved into the stealing of insider information to gain an advantage in capital markets. And now fraudulent healthcare claims.”